Long, long ago there was a time when power chords ruled the world in a way that’s unimaginable now. Radio-friendly American punk bestrode the earth like an avuncular brontosaurus, ‘emo’ was just a twinkle in some cynical marketing bastard’s eye and all the cool kids wore plaid shirts and eye-liner (sort of the same as now but we, like, really meant it then). But like the dinosaurs, a series of catastrophic events, in the shape of Cobain’s suicide and Britpop, was to wipe out this happy scenario, seemingly for ever. In a turn of events that can only be described as Jurassic Park-esque, The Bomb have discovered prehistoric pop-punk’s DNA and set it out on show. The crashing powerchords of opening track “Up From The Floor” elicit a Pavlovian desire to dress all in black and mosh furiously with a can of cider (mine was a sheltered upbringing), and this sets the tone for the whole album.
The Bomb’s more-than-passing familiarity with the Pixies’ back catalogue makes for an initially promising listen. There are a couple of unexpected chord changes, some neat riffs and a few tricky dynamics which polish the rough-edged punk of the songs. A sort of Proustian recollection, if you will, of the way things were. There are also a few pleasant surprises tucked away in there – the reggae-lite of “Burn It All” and the witty imagery of “Bring The Shotgun” are compelling, while “Up From the Floor” and “Turned On” sound like ready made singles.
A sort of Proustian recollection, if you will, of the way things were.
All too often though the songs flatter to deceive and there’s a real lack of imagination. The inevitability of a yelled chorus backed by power-chords and woh-ay-ohing backing vocals begins to grate before you reach the halfway point. After a few listens it got to the point that I could have swapped round every chorus on this album and not noticed the difference. The simplistic platitudes and punk-101 dynamics espoused on “1000 Tons of Ice” symptomatic of the band’s lack of willing to be inventive.
Lyrically The Bomb aren’t as cringeworthy as, say, Jimmy Eat World or Alkaline Trio, both of whom bear comparison, but there’s a similar emotional superficiality that means the songs lacks any real punch. It’s possible this could have been the alternative record of the year – but only if the year in question was 1993. There’s something quite endearing about this unreconstructed, artless punk-pop, but it belongs to a past of plaid shirts and long, greasy hair. Top marks for effort chaps, but we moved beyond this sort of thing a long time ago.